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For outdoor choices this weekend, it's one if by boat, two if by key

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First of all, Happy Halloween.
If you want some outdoor thrills and chills, even after tonight, you can try the Zombie Zip feature out at TreeUmph!
The East Manatee adventure park will offer haunted woods and spooky zip line rides from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The address is 21805 S.R. 70 East, Bradenton. Try treeumph.org or call 322-2130.

gulfcoastcyclefestBike or boat?
Moving right along, there are two pretty good events this weekend. I couldn’t decide which one to write about, so this column is a two-fer.
Instead of playing Paul Revere, signaling one if by land or two if by sea, let me recommend both.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Egmont Key Alliance will present its annual “Discover the Island” festival.
Besides being popular with snorkelers and beachgoers, the Tampa Bay key offers more than a century’s worth of history as a Gulf Coast fort.
On Sunday morning, the Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club will present its annual Gulf Coast Cycle Fest in Lakewood Ranch.
The best thing about this event? There are short, medium and long rides to fit your cycling level.
If you want to try the island festival and the Cycle Fest, you need to start with Egmont Key.

egmont key fortEgmont history buffs
If you’re a strong paddler, you can kayak to the island from Fort DeSoto Park at the southern tip of Pinellas County. Be alert — those huge freighters are much faster than they look.
If you’re not a paddler, there are $18 ferry rides from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This weekend, there will be Egmont Key nature walks and historical re-enactments.
Guided tours will include the lighthouse, which was built in 1858, along with the ruins of Fort Dade, which was built for the Spanish-American War.
There will be music for everyone, fun and games for kids, and hot dogs and soft drinks for sale.
Today, the mile-and-a-half-long island is a quiet state park and bird sanctuary, but it was once a thriving community.
egmontkeymapThere were military barracks and private homes, along with a hospital, schoolhouse and movie theater.
History buffs will enjoy walking the brick streets that used to connect those pieces of island history.
For more information, visit egmontkey.info.

Long and short cycling
You don’t have to be a super athlete or fancy cyclist to enjoy the Gulf Coast Cycle Fest on Sunday.
All you need is a bike and a helmet.
The shortest ride is 20 miles, which is a distance most people can manage.
The $40 entry fee includes breakfast and lunch, which seem like excellent ways to begin and end a bike ride.
The Cycle Fest is the best place to try longer distances, too. For the 35- and 62-mile rides, there are lots of rest stops and plenty of cyclists to help you pace yourself. Early birds start the 100-mile ride at 7:30 a.m.
For more information, visit smbc.us/cyclefest.

cyclefestmap

Last modified: January 9, 2014
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